Have you ever woken up after a night of drinking alcohol, overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety and dread? If so – you’ve had The Fear.
This recently coined term is described by Urban Dictionary as “the sense that you have done yourself some lasting damage after a night of drinking.”
Whilst drinking alcohol can make me feel more confident at the time, this is always short lived. The next day is never much fun.
Sure, after 6 [legal] years of drinking, I’ve become accustomed to the horrible hangover symptoms – head ache, nausea and a mouth as dry as the Sahara. But The Fear seems to have worsened with age.
A typical episode of The Fear will go like this:
I’ll wake up in the middle of the night sweating and feeling panicked, unable to get back to sleep for at least an hour. I’ll hurriedly delete any drunken evidence I’ve added to my story on SnapChat or Instagram.
Once the day has started, I’ll repeatedly look for reassurance that I did nothing wrong or embarrassing. Even if I wasn’t ‘drunk’ and absolutely know there is nothing to worry about, I still will.
If the people I went out with the night before don’t contact me by dinnertime, that’s it. My mind is in overdrive. What did I do? What did I say? I must have offended them!
My friends and boyfriend will be hounded all day with the most ridiculous “what if” questions. I won’t just ask once, I’ll ask two, three, four times.
Throughout the day, I’ll check social media religiously to make sure that there is no incriminating evidence of me anywhere. I’ll check friends accounts, Facebook pages of the places I’ve been, I’ll even double check my own profiles!
You can guarantee that by tea time, I’ve managed to genuinely convince myself that my life is over, even though I actually haven’t done a thing. I’m maybe even looking at one way flights out of the country… (Side note – I actually did once book a one way flight to Greece because of THE FEAR!!! Story for another day though.)
NOTHING STOPS THE FEAR.
Whether it’s the next day, or the day after, rationality steps in and the overwhelming worry does usually fade.
As annoying as it can be for me and those around me, The Fear is actually a real psychological side effect of drinking alcohol – as real as that banging headache we all know too well – and it’s more common than you might think.
Drinkaware, an independent UK charity, state that “Alcohol acts as a sedative, so it can help you feel more at ease. However, the benefits are short lived.”
“When we drink alcohol it disrupts the balance of chemicals and processes in the brain. The way your body processes alcohol can also have a direct effect on your mood. [Eventually] the sedative effects wear off…” and this is what can cause people to feel a heightened sense of anxiety – or The Fear – the next day.
So there you have it, The Fear is real.